Shorts International’s channel ShortsHD is making this year’s Oscar nominees in the categories of Live Action Short Film and Animated Short Film available on VOD and digital platforms beginning today. The lineup already has gotten a release in more than 400 theaters nationwide. It’s the ninth year the organization has distributed the program ahead of the Oscars ceremony. The shorts are now available on iTunes, Amazon, and via VOD through cable providers Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Charter Communications, RCN, Midcontinent and Metrocast. As a refresher, here are this year’s nominees in the categories:
The same day that Disney launches its mega-hit Frozen in the digital realm, the company is announcing a cloud-based purchase and storage service for its films. In a new deal with Apple, Disney Movies Anywhere goes live today exclusively through iTunes, kicking off with more than 400 Disney, Pixar and Marvel titles such as Iron Man 3, Finding Nemo and Mary Poppins. The service allows users to browse, buy, manage and watch movies on PCs and iOS devices using an app or website. The move comes 15 months after the company announced it was pulling the plug on Disney Movies Online, its barely-known and costly Internet pic service.
Not that DMA is without precedent.
In many ways, DMA is Disney’s answer to UltraViolet. While the House of Mickey has not been a part of the UltraViolet gang, the cloud-based digital rights library has been backed by many of the other major studios as well as Lionsgate, DreamWorks Animation and HBO, among others. With two such systems now on the movie market, there undoubtedly will be concerns about consumer confusion over DMA and UltraViolet, which debuted in 2011. The latter’s backers want the service to be the industry standard and to provide consumers with a single digital locker for their movies. A desire the new DMA now challenges.
Additionally, the tie-up with Apple is key for Disney. Right now UltraViolet titles can be played on Apple devices, with the help of an app, but don’t show up in iTunes. DMA is powered by KeyChest, Disney’s adaptable technology that can integrate with any existing distribution partner as well as work with new ones to enable access to digital content. DMA bolsters the companies’ ties with Apple. Last year, the Disney Channel app was made available on Apple TV.
Once again, soap opera lawsuits are vexing ABC. Having been hit with a now $125 million breach of contract suit by Prospect Park over licensed soaps All My Children and One Life To Live, the network also faces a legal action from one of the soaps’ former writers. Requesting a trial and claiming he is owed more than $50,000 in royalties from OLTL being played on iTunes, Hulu and OWN, Allison “Sam” Hall this week slapped ABC with a complaint in New York Supreme Court (read it here). Hall served as co-lead writer on OLTL from November 1984 to mid-1985. Because he “created and developed the story line and numerous characters in the series,” Hall says his deal with the network ensured that he would be paid weekly royalties of $1,000 a week “as long as the ONE LIFE TO LIVE series is broadcast.”
OLTL ceased airing on ABC in early January 2012 but the network had licensed the show in late 2011 to Rich Frank and Jeff Kwatinetz’s Prospect Park for new online episodes as well as a 10-week showing on OWN. Those 30-minutes episodes launched in April of last year. Though the new digital OLTL was suspended after 40 episodes and PP and ABC have been locked in a legal battle over alleged broken agreements and claims of sabotage since last spring.
The BBC has confirmed the recovery of nine Doctor Who episodes which had long been thought missing. Reports of the trove first surfaced earlier this week, to the delight of the Tardis faithful, and BBC Worldwide has now made the re-mastered episodes available for download via iTunes. Back in the fold are five installments of 1967 story The Enemy Of The World, and four installments of 1968’s The Web Of Fear which sees the Time Lord battle a robot yeti in the London Underground. All of the episodes feature Patrick Troughton as the 2nd Doctor. Many of the original transmission tapes were destroyed by the BBC, so it’s often copies made for foreign broadcast that turn up to fill in the gaps. According to the BBC, there are still 27 Doctor Who stories that are missing or have incomplete episodes. Here’s a video for the re-mastered Web Of Fear:
UPDATE, 9:30 AM: Apple are breaking out their wallet today and breaking good it seems. Just days before Breaking Bad ends forever, the company is refunding the fans over their iTunes purchase of the last episodes of the AMC show. This iTunes $22.99 credit on Apple’s part doesn’t come cheap being that Breaking Bad was one of the most popular TV series on the online store. And it comes over two weeks (see below) after one irate fan began a class action suit against the tech company for its double dipping charges on Season 5 of the drama on iTunes. Back in mid-2012, AMC announced that the final season of Breaking Bad would be split up. However people who had bought a Season Pass to that season of the show on Apple’s music and video service didn’t discover until the second part of the cycle debuted on August 11 this year that they would have to pay another fee on top of their Season 5 Season Pass fee to watch the last 8 episodes. Those shows were now called “The Final Season” on iTunes. Needless to say, the fans were not happy and it looks like Apple or AMC or both heard them loud and clear. Check out the email that Apple sent out today to customers:
We apologize for any confusion the naming of “Season 5″ and “The Final Season” of Breaking Bad might have caused you. While the names of the seasons and episodes associated with them were not chosen by iTunes, we’d like to offer you “The Final Season” on us by providing you with the iTunes code below in the amount of $22.99. This credit can also be used for any other content on the iTunes Store. Thank you for your purchase.
Pandora Media’s down 7.7% this afternoon after CNET reported that Apple is “close” to enlisting Universal Music and Warner Music for an iTunes-linked streaming service. Apple would make it easy for users to buy songs that they like, and would share as much as 45% of the revenue from the ads it sells on the service. That appeals to the music companies even though they’d collect less for each stream than they do from Pandora. Apple wants to strike licensing deals with Sony Music, music publishers and others in time to introduce the service this summer in the U.S. as well as the UK, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan. Last month Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy startled investors by announcing that after a decade at the helm he plans to leave the company after it picks a successor. The stock is up 39% so far this year.
Global Showbiz Briefs: India’s ‘24’, ITV Shifts Mike Blair, iTunes Prices In Oz, Plus JFK & Afghan Docs
Clock To Start Ticking For Indian ’24′
Slumdog Millionaire star Anil Kapoor is getting to work on the Indian version of the TV series 24. The actor, who was featured in the final season of Fox/20th TV’s real-time drama, will produce via his Anil Kapoor Film Co. He’ll also play the Jack Bauer character, now reportedly named Jai Singh Rathod, in the local take. According to BollywoodLife, production was due to kick off this week at Kapoor’s Stage 21 studio near Mumbai. Delhi Belly director Abhinay Deo is helming the series and Rensil D’Silva, who’s directing Sanjay Dutt’s Ungli, is scripting. The local broadcast partner is Viacom-owned Colors. Kapoor will next be seen on the big screen in Shootout At Wadala directed by Sanjay Gupta.
Controversial Singaporean film Sex.Violence.FamilyValues has just been banned in Malaysia but the producers have sold the 47-minute pastiche of three comedies to a U.S. distributor and are close to finalizing a deal with iTunes. Writer-director Ken Kwek’s English-language triptych was due to screen next week at the Asean International Film Festival in Kuching but organizers informed him the Malaysian Film Censorship Board has banned the film. The film was banned in Singapore last October when censors deemed one segment in which a Chinese porn director played by Adrian Pang rants against an Indian actor “racially offensive”. After the scenes in question were deleted the film was allowed to open. Kwek says most shows are sold out at the single theater where it’s playing. He tells Deadline the full, unedited version has been acquired by U.S. distributor Virgil Films and Entertainment, which will release it VOD and online, and Singapore cable channel SingTel MioTV plans to show the censored version. – Don Groves
Apple dominates digital music sales, with nearly 70% of the market, while Amazon is far behind at about 12%, NPD Group reported last year. So it’s easy to see why Amazon is so eager to pry consumers from Apple and its iTunes ecosystem. And the new Amazon MP3 store optimized for iPhones and iPod touch offers people who have those devices their first opportunity to buy and listen to tunes bought directly from Amazon, the e-retail giant says. They can avoid iTunes — where Apple takes a cut of transactions — and buy directly from Amazon by using a web app that works within the Safari browser. That could be a big deal to frequent buyers: Top selling singles typically go for 99 cents on Amazon, and $1.29 on iTunes. “Since the launch of the Amazon Cloud Player app for iPhone and iPod touch, a top request from customers has been the ability to buy music from Amazon right from their devices,” says Amazon Music VP Steve Boom. Songs bought from Amazon also can play on non-Apple devices including web browsers, Android-powered phones and tablets, and Roku and Sonus home entertainment systems.
DreamWorks, which rousted former President Bill Clinton to introduce the Steven Spielberg-directed Lincoln at Sunday’s Golden Globes, continues to pull out the stops to get the movie noticed in Oscar season. Today, they’ve released a behind-the-scenes special entitled Lincoln: An American Journey, and they are making it available on iTunes at noon West Coast time, before the special airs January 20 on KCBS. It highlights the painstaking 12 years of work that went into re-creating the period as the 16th president worked to abolish slavery before the end of the Civil War. The film has grossed more than $150 million since opening November 9 and it’s up for 12 Oscars. Here’s a peek and it just went live:
At a TCA panel yesterday, PBS president Paula Kerger said, “We’re not punishing our viewers.” The comment was made with regard to the lag time between when Downton Abbey airs on the UK’s ITV and in the U.S. on PBS. Well, here’s good news for folks who can’t get enough fast enough of the Crawley clan – and for those trying to avoid the spoilers that have been whizzing around the Web. Apple said yesterday that North American subscribers to iTunes who purchase a season pass for the show will get a jump on the last three episodes of season three before they air on PBS. The episodes, including the special season finale which airs on February 17, will be available for download on iTunes beginning January 29. The period drama’s second season was the best-selling TV series on iTunes last year and the exclusive season three Downton preview is said to be a first for the company.
Here is why I think these Radius-TWC heads Tom Quinn and Jason Janego will be interesting to watch as they get untracked heading Harvey Weinstein’s multi-platform releasing company. They’ve done a pre-theatrical release of their Sundance acquisition Bachelorette and it has hit #1 on the iTunes Top Movies chart, the first pre-theatrical release to do so. I saw the Leslye Headland-directed film at its Sundance premiere, and with a cast that included Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, Rebel Wilson, James Marsden and Adam Scott, everyone thought it would be the female version of The Hangover. But in this film, about best friends whose night of prenuptial debauchery threatens to ruin their closest friend’s wedding, these chicks were so hard to love that many buyers walked away for fear of alienating audiences with a wide release that would have required a big P&A spend. Still, the film’s biting humor is good enough to find a niche adult audience, and Janego and Quinn have started to do this with the iTunes release. These days, indie distributors have to find resourceful ways to find audiences while saving the P&A, as Roadside did with Margin Call last year. This year it’s even tougher to rise above the clutter of all the VOD titles. The Radius guys seem to have found a way to do that, before the September 7 theatrical release. Indeed, by way of comparison, …
The e-retailer says it has agreements with just about every major music provider — including Sony, EMI, Universal, and Warner — giving it the right to offer streamed versions of songs found on a customer’s hard drive. Amazon will include this scan-and-match feature in its Cloud Player service, making it more competitive with Apple‘s iTunes Match. A free version of Cloud Player entitles a user to stream 250 songs along with others bought from Amazon, while a premium version costing $24.99 a year handles 250,000 songs plus Amazon purchases. The Cloud Player works with Amazon’s Kindle Fire as well as apps for iOS and Android devices. The company says it will soon also provide it through Roku and Sonos players. The deal with the record labels plus 150 independent distributors, aggregators and music publishers will enable Amazon to stream about 20M songs at 256 kilobits per second. Along with the change, Amazon is turning Cloud Drive into a separate service for file storage starting at $10 a year for 20 GB.
The data out today from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group may suggest that the period of steep declines in home video spending — largely driven by the collapse of the DVD market — is over. But it also may just reflect the fact that the quarter had more popular movies: Films available on home video in the quarter did 12.5% better at the box office than did comparable releases last year. Whatever the reason, total sales of DVD and Blu-ray discs fell just 0.6% in Q1 to $2.06B; DEG says that Blu-ray now accounts for about a quarter of all disc sales. Throw in the $165M spent to buy digital files of movies and TV shows, and the sell-through market was up 0.5%. Digital vendors really showed their muscle in rentals. Spending on subscription streaming services such as Netflix was up 545.4% to $548.6M while digital VOD from providers including Apple’s iTunes was up 6.8% to $505.3M. Meanwhile, the rash of store closings at Blockbuster contributed to a 29.4% decline in rentals at bricks-and-mortar stores to $305M. And Netflix’s struggles with its DVD business helped to drive a 48.1% slide in subscription disc rentals to $348M. Bricks-and-mortar and subscription DVD rental services now individually do less business than pay TV’s VOD which was up 6.8% to $505.3M. Another winner: kiosk services led by Redbox. Their rocketed 30.1% to $523M. DEG says that consumers opened 2M UltraViolet accounts, …
Even if you don’t have Spotify on your computer or smartphone screen, you should put it on your radar. Music execs tell me that the streaming service, introduced in the U.S. last July, is beginning to break from the pack of digital music providers which includes Pandora, Rdio, Rhapsody, MOG, and Slacker. ”The big question is whether it will become the iTunes of the streaming media market,” one tells me. Credit Suisse’s John Blackledge took note of Spotify yesterday in a 63-page report initiating coverage of Pandora Media, which offers a radio-like streamed service. “There is a lot of discussion and buzz around Spotify,” he says noting that it is “looking to siphon market share” from some of the giant sellers of downloaded music including iTunes and Amazon. Spotify has about 10M active users worldwide. (The company won’t break out the figures by country.) The vast majority use its ad-supported, free service which — in the U.S. – offers unlimited access to its library of more than 16M songs including tunes from all four major recorded music companies: Universal, Sony, Warner, and EMI. (No Beatles, though; iTunes has exclusive online rights to the group’s catalog.) The company’s goal, though, is to nudge users into paying for a subscription. About 3M people pay either $4.99 a month (for unlimited, ad-free streams to computers) or $9.99 (for unlimited, ad-free streams to mobile and digital devices as well as computers, and the ability to download songs for off-line listening). Users can listen to specific songs on demand, or let the service create playlists based on a particular performer or other criteria. While other companies offer similar services, execs say that Spotfy one of the easiest to use — and integrates well with Facebook, where users can share songs, playlists and recommendations. Indeed, only Facebook members now can sign up for Spotify.
Matt Dentler, head of content at Cinetic Rights Management-FilmBuff is headed to iTunes where he will be the Indie Film Partner Manager. He will relocate from New York to Los Angeles where he’ll take up the position beginning February 13 according to an email Dentler sent to clients. The move could signal a potentially significant shift for iTunes which has a studio-heavy roster. Dentler, a former head of the SXSW Film Festival before joining entertainment lawyer-producer John Sloss’ FilmBuff, has significant reach in the indie film scene. Dentler, who worked at CRM/FilmBuff for four years, declined to comment on his departure or his new position when reached by Deadline. His final day at the digital distribution outlet is February 10th.
Steven Spielberg/Oren Peli thriller series collaboration The River makes its U.S. debut on February 7 on ABC. In a first for producer ABC Studios, the shows will then be available via iTunes in the U.K. 24 hours later. There is currently no U.K. broadcaster deal for The River, although an announcement is expected soon. Meanwhile, U.K. iTunes customers can watch the series on a one-day delay during its entire run. Experiments like this are partly a means to deter piracy and are proving more frequent (they’re also welcome for frustrated fans in Europe). In 2010, for example, ITV made Vampire Diaries available on iTunes in the U.K. before it started airing the popular show. In France, leading broadcaster TF1 makes episodes of shows like House available via its own VOD service on a 24-hour delay from the U.S. TF1 also airs the series on TV at a one-season delay and the show remains a ratings powerhouse. In the U.S., Fox last
BURBANK, CA, December 23, 2011 – The new trailer for Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ The Dark Knight Rises smashed the record for most combined downloads through the iTunes Movie Trailers site (www.itunes.com/ trailers) and the iTunes Trailers iOS app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The trailer went online at 10:00 Monday morning, December 19, and was viewed more than 12.5 million times in its first 24 hours, breaking the previous record [set by the trailer for Marvel's The Avengers] by well over two million. The trailer can be viewed in HD at http:// trailers.apple.com/trailers/wb/thedarkknightrises/.
ABC’s 1960s drama Pan Am is taking to the web in an effort to keep interest alive in the freshman drama, whose fate for a season renewal has yet to be decided. Show producer Sony Pictures TV is offering up the series’ first nine already-aired episodes, including the pilot, free at the iTunes Music Store beginning today through January 5. Episodes also are being made available via Amazon, Vudu, CinemaNow, Sony Video Unlimited and PlayStation Store. The show is currently on hiatus and returns to ABC with new episodes on January 8. So far, 14 episodes of the 1960s-set series have been ordered — the last added after some back-and-forth negotiations between Sony TV and ABC. The network said it won’t decide whether to bring back the show for Season 2 until May; in March, Pan Am is being replaced on the schedule by midseason dramedy GCB.